Monday, June 02, 2008

Two paths

…or, what my scar is teaching me.

I am still so scared, underneath everything. There’s a current of fear running through me all the time. It has nothing to do with knowing the side effects of interferon; that choice is simple. It increases my chances; therefore I’m taking it. (I start probably in two weeks.) If I can physically tolerate it, I will endure it. If not, I can stop. I’m not afraid of feeling horrible for a year, if it means life.

I’m afraid of statistics. A recurrence could be fatal. The disease process is awful. And right now, I could flip a statistical coin. Interferon is by no means a guarantee—but it could take me from 50% down to 30%. A 70% chance of not having to deal with this ever again, is passing.

It’s the uncertainty that gets you. I’m young, healthy, and strong—and I feel like I’m living on what may be borrowed time. I don’t know that it is. I don’t know that it isn’t. And I cannot wait five years to exhale.

I have a scar from the lymph node biopsy. It runs for about 2 ½ inches, directly beneath my ear down my neck. Every time I nod, or turn my head, I feel it. And I feel the fear, again. Sometimes I can feel the stiffness and remember, I’ve been somewhere. I can take it as wisdom, touch it and let it go. Other times, it throws me into a panic again.

I don’t care that my scar is visible. I care that I feel it all the time. I rub vitamin E into it whenever I think about it, to soften the tissue and to help it heal. I’d been doing that out of fear, more than out of love.

I was massaging it the other night, gently but less than kindly, when something stilled me. It came as a voice, almost: “Don’t do this to be expedient. Be here, with your body. Love it. Help it heal.”

I stopped. And I realized what I was doing. I started rubbing my neck again, slowly, in circles, with two fingers. I turned my music off, and I just was, there, with my body. I was there with the wound, and with the healing. I don’t know if words ever came to me. I was present, in a deep and still place: a place of knowing, awakening, healing.

Since then, that’s become something of a prayer time. Yesterday morning, I left late for church. I swiped some cream on my neck on my way out the door, planning to rub it in on the way. I forgot bus fare (which I didn’t need anyway) and had to come back for it, making myself later. So then I half-ran down the hill.

At the BART station, waiting for the train, I remembered. And I slowly, intentionally, with every healing will, rubbed the half-evaporated lotion into myself.

Be present. Be here, with your body. Know that what’s happening is deeper than your consciousness. Know that you are in the hands of God. Ally yourself, with healing.

When I think about cancer, I freeze in fear. Touching my scar, intentionally, helps me choose love.

Last night, lying in bed before I went to sleep, I rubbed in circles, over my scar. I felt for my pulse, and I stilled my fingers there.

I. am. alive.


Laura Toepfer said...

That's quite lovely. I am sure your body is glad to have you to take care of her.

Kirstin said...

Thank you.

Jane R said...

When I think about cancer, I freeze in fear. Touching my scar, intentionally, helps me choose love.

A lovely, incarnational mantra.

eileen said...


Kirstin said...

Thank you, Jane.


The Swandive said...

This is beautiful, and so are you.

FranIAm said...

You so deeply move me with your words, your thoughts , your experiences and your prayers.

love and light and ((((((Kirstin)))))
hugs all around.

johnieb said...

So (evidently) young, and so wise.


Kirstin said...

I have a harsh teacher, but I'm learning.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kirstin...

I thought that perhaps I would put a dragon tatoo over my scars! But, in the end, no....they are more holy as they are. I think yours will be too.

You are indeed, alive! I am glad you are healing, on so many levels. God bless you dear one. You continue in our prayers.

Maybe you should get those barefeet of yours massaged too!

many blessings,

Kirstin said...

Thank you so much, Margaret!

A foot massage sounds really lovely...